Archive for ‘New York Knicks’

March 3, 2011

Underrated: Chauncey Billups’ (Future) Production for the Knicks

by Jeeves

It’s Thursday, so time for something overrated or underrated


The big news preceding the end of the trading deadline, of course, was that after an endless dance, the Nuggets finally traded Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. There was much rejoicing and a surprising amount of hand wringing after the trade was consummated. Due to the deluge of media coverage leading up to the trade, much of the focus was placed on Carmelo Anthony. The fact that Chauncey Billups was included in the trade was a mere afterthought.

The funny thing is that Chauncey may end up making a larger impact on the Knicks  this season than Carmelo. I’m not trying to argue that Chauncey is better than Carmelo or that he’s even close to being the player Carmelo is. I just think that as Amare and Carmelo try to mesh their high usage games together, that Chauncey will prove to be exceedingly valuable to the Knicks.

I realize it has been an extremely small sample size but their performance has shown this to some degree so far. Chauncey’s production, so far, has been far, far more efficient than Carmelo’s. I realize that Carmelo has produced more in terms of sheer numbers, but there is something to be said about producing efficiently. I’ll pose this hypothetical: Would you rather have a player shoot 6/8 from the field (2/2 from 3pt and 5-5 FT) for a total of 20 points or 8/23 from the field (1/3 from 3pt and 6-6 FT) for a total of 23 points. Yeah, 23 points is more than 20, but I’d much rather have a player put up that first stat line.

In any case, whatever your views on efficiency, it’s undeniable that Chauncey has been a more efficient offensive player. In his 4 games so far (he missed one with a thigh bruise), he’s scored 93 points while taking 49 attempts from the field; that works out to 1.9 pts per field goal attempt. That’s a pretty good number. If you factor in turnovers and look at points per possession, that number falls a little to 1.6, still pretty good. Carmelo on the other hand has scored 130 points but has needed 111 field goal attempts to reach that total, which is 1.2 pts per field goal attempt. His points per possession works out to 1.07. Another way to look at it, is at that rate Chauncey would score 160 points using 100 possessions whereas Carmelo would only score 107 points, using 100 possessions. It’s a little abstract to think of it like that, but it is a fairly significant difference. Another way to look at it is that league average points per field goal attempt is 1.2, the same as Carmelo and league average points per possession is 1.06, almost the same as Carmelo. In that view, Carmelo is producing at a rate no better than league average.

Carmelo has the superior per game statistics and the higher bulk totals due to playing an extra game and also playing more minutes that Chauncey. Another way to view things on a more level field is to look at their per 36 minutes stats. Per 36 minutes, Chauncey has averaged 25.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 6.6 apg. Carmelo on the other hand has averaged 25.6/4.7/2.4. There’s no arguing here that Chauncey has provided more output per 36 minutes. He’s outscored Carmelo, while providing the same number of rebounds (from the point guard position!!) and nearly tripling Carmelo’s assists.

I think part of Chauncey’s efficiency dominance is attributable to 3 things. First, Carmelo is a great scorer, but not an efficient one. Second, Carmelo, who has gotten used to dominating the ball since Iverson was traded, has to learn to share the rock with Amare. Finally, I think the D’Antoni offense generally benefits point guard play.

So as I said, I’m not trying to convince anyone that Chauncey is better than Carmelo. I am trying to say that his production so far has been underrated and that his production moving forward will also likely be underrated. There’s extreme value in efficiency, which is something Chauncey has in spades when compared to Melo.

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February 28, 2011

The Motives of Free Agents

by Jeeves

After the formation of, for lack of a better name, (I’ll oblige them), the Heatles and now that Carmelo officially has become a Knick, it appears that the free agency landscape has changed drastically in the NBA. Throw in the impending (2012) free agencies of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard and it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that the (star) players now have all the leverage in terms of where they end up. The teams that these stars are leaving are desperate to get at least pennies on the dollar so they kowtow to the wishes of their star even as he orchestrates his departure. Inevitably, that star will leave for greener pastures in a larger market. That is, at least, the perception.

It is that perception that I want to take a look at. Do stars really leave their teams to sign larger contracts in a city they deem better? Plus, what qualities do these cities have that make them “better”?

So these are the rules, if you will, of the way I treated the data. I scoured the Internet for reliable lists of the highest paid players in their respective leagues. For the NBA, I used a HoopsHype list of the highest salaries of players for this season. This means that I wasn’t looking at the largest total salaries, just single season salaries from this current season. The site listed the top 30 players. For the MLB, I used the invaluable Cot’s Contracts. He had the top 33 total contracts in history listed, meaning the total value over the life of the contract. That means for the MLB, it’s more of a snap shot of the last 15-20 years rather than a single season snap shot. Finally, for the NHL, I used a listing from USA Today which had the top 25 salaries from LAST (2009-2010) season. (I ignored the NFL because things get hairy after including signing and roster bonuses).

So after choosing my lists, I parsed the names to find out which players either A) Signed with a different team as a free agent or B) Forced a trade/was traded and immediately signed an extension. Those in group B weren’t technically free agents, but things worked, to the same effect. It does, however, exclude players such as Matt Holliday who was traded to the Cardinals, played through the remainder of the season, hit free agency, and then resigned with the Cardinals.

Let’s take a look at the lists starting with the NBA since this is what set me on this line of inquiry:

NBA – 10/30 – 33%

Rashard Lewis (Magic)

Carmelo Anthony (Knicks)

Gilbert Arenas (first salary) (Wizards)

Amare Stoudemire (Knicks)

Kenyon Martin (Nuggets)

Elton Brand (76ers)

Peja Stojakovic (Hornets)

Lebron James (Heat)

Chris Bosh (Heat)

Carlos Boozer (Bulls)

Of the 30 highest paid players in the NBA, only 10 of them met my criteria. Bosh, Lebron, and Carmelo are all prominently on that list. They also, make up a sizable portion. The teams that the players signed with don’t seem to have any sort of correlation. For every Carmelo who wanted the big market you have a Peja who signed with the small market Hornets. For every Lebron James who headed for warm weather, there’s a Carlos Boozer who went to a cold weather city. I think what it comes down to is that the players went to the teams that could pay them the most. They also seem not to be (LBJ excluded) the premier talents of the league. Yes, Amare Stoudemire is a very good player but he wouldn’t be in your top 7 of players with whom to start a team with. Taking this all into account, it seems (recently) that star players usually sign extensions with teams that drafted them (2/3 of the listed 30). It means that the Heatles and Melo are breaking the mold, so to speak, with the way that they orchestrated their moves to their current teams. It’s impossible to say whether this is a trend or a blip, but if history says anything it is that you can expect some superstars to move about, but the vast majority will stay put.

After the jump we’ll take a look at the NHL and MLB.

read more »

February 22, 2011

Musings on Melo

by Jeeves

So Carmelo Anthony finally got traded to his dream locale, New York (not New Jersey). As of now the trade shakes out as follows:

New York Knicks get: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman, and Corey Brewer

Denver Nuggets get: Timofey Mozgov, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Raymond Felton (plus draft picks)

Minnesota Timberwolves get: Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph

So lets take a quick look at this trade from the viewpoint of the teams involved and then at the end I’ll have some random observations that you may or may not see elsewhere.

New York Knicks

This trade is a no-brainer, to me, for the Knicks. As the team was structured before the trade, they were a middling playoff team in the Eastern Conference and that’s it. It’s possible, though unlikely, they could have pulled off an upset in the first round, and such an event represented the best case scenario for their season. The Knicks are not the Bobcats; the franchise doesn’t need the money from a playoff run. If this trade represents 1 step back before 2 steps forward (and thus costing the Knicks a playoff trip) they’d still make large sums of money as they sell out MSG. Blowing up (most of) the core of low playoff seed will not cost the Knicks anything. If anything, by adding Melo and Billups, they made themselves a more dangerous playoff team. Bench play is less important in the playoffs and if those two plus Amare are healthy, I would be much more worried about playing the Knicks than when they had Gallinari, Chandler, and Felton.

In the short term, the Knicks will probably sacrifice a couple regular season wins, but will come out of this as a better team in the future. They have assured themselves the addition of a top 10-15 player (depending on your view of Melo) which is a far cry from merely positioning themselves with the cap room for a top 10-15 player. Anytime you can do that in exchange for non-sure thing prospects, you do it, and worry about how the pieces fit afterwards. In basketball trades, the big thing, unless you’re trying to round off a championship squad or shed salary, is to come away from a trade with the best player. The participants in the trade may have differing opinions on who the best player is, but in this instance, Carmelo is vastly superior to everyone else involved.

Denver Nuggets

Masai Ujiri can take a bow for this trade. He continually raised the price for Carmelo and ended up getting it all. He knew that the Knicks wouldn’t (Renaldo) balk(man) at the price, as they were desperate to add Melo. It took a lot of balls and it paid off. Not only does Denver pick up some really intriguing pieces, but they get loads of cap relief. In fact, the $14 million-ish coming off the cap is enough to bring them under the luxury tax threshhold which has a two fold monetary effect. First, they don’t have to pay dollar-for-dollar the amount that they are above the tax line and second, they receive money from the pool created by teams that do have to pay the tax.

As far as Gallo and Chandler are concerned, I think they picked up two really good complementary pieces. They aren’t good enough to lead you to a championship by themselves, but they certainly are good players. I’m actually a big fan of Gallinari. He shoots really well from outside and gets to the line a ridiculous amount, plus he’s super young. There’s a lot to like about him. Chandler is a bit of a wild card for the Nuggets. He’ll basically tryout with them for the rest of the season which gives them time to decide whether he’s worth bidding on over the summer (assuming there’s a season) as he is a restricted free agent.

Minnesota Timberwolves

They did okay for themselves. They get some nice financial relief in Eddy Curry’s expiring contract, as well as $3 million to cover the rest of his expiring contract. They gave up Brewer who didn’t figure into their long term plans and they took a Michael Beasley style shot on Anthony Randolph. The Fighting Kahns need talent and this gives them some. Whether Randolph cashes in on that talent it another story.

Quick Thoughts

– Anthony Carter has a no trade clause. I think it would be hilarious if he exercises it and blocks the trade.

– The Knicks could play a high priced game of chicken by not signing Anthony to an extension until after the new CBA. They own his Bird rights so if they don’t sign him now, under the current CBA, it’s likely no other team will be able to then trump a hypothetical Knicks offer under the new CBA. It would be way to savvy and risky of a move to happen, but it’s still a possibility.

-Along those lines, imagine if the Knicks try to trade Anthony or Amare in 2012 for a signed-and-traded Dwight Howard.

– The Knicks are probably out of the 2012 Free Agency Derby which is probably for the best. Who know with the new CBA how things would even work out. As they say, a bird in the hand is better than a better bird in the bush.

– Denver’s trade makes Bryan Coleangelo look even more incompetent. Do you think the Raptors would prefer a package like this rather than the 2 Miami draft picks and trade exception they got?

– The Nets are probably lucky that the Knicks didn’t have the balls to stick to the original asking price. Prokhorov was willing to give up a ton of assets for Melo.

-If Isiah returns, him and Renaldo Balkman will be reunited. I guess it really was true love at first sight.

-This probably will signal the beginning of open trading season. I think most GM’s were waiting for this domino to fall before proceeding.

– I guess this trade happened much like Melo’s offensive game…jab step, jab step, jab step, pull the trigger when everyone knows its coming.

February 17, 2011

The NBA All-Star Player Draft

by Jeeves

The NBA All-Star break is fast approaching (the Lakers, it seems, have been on break for a little while), which got me thinking, what would happen if the NBA had a player draft for the ASG, like the NHL did?

Before we get to how I think things would play out, here are some things to keep in mind.

The game, this year, is in Los Angeles, therefore, I’m choosing Kobe and Blake Griffin as the two captains. If the game was in say, Vegas again, I’d probably go with Durant and Lebron as the captains as they play the same positions and there’s the whole super humble vs super ego angle. Since it is LA, I thought it would be nice to have the two “home teams” provide the captains. Second, I’m working under the assumption that there’s something actually on the line here that would make all the players desperately want to win, other than just pride. Basically before the draft, everyone is programmed with Kobe’s pathological desire to win. I’m also giving Kobe top pick since LA is more his town than Blake’s…for now. Also, on the playground we always played the first captain gets the choice of first pick or second two.

Kobe – Pick 1 – Dwight Howard

Kobe knows that defense wins championships games. Dwight offers great defense and pretty damn good offense down low. Some probably think the pick here would be Lebron, but Kobe knows that he duplicates some of Lebron’s skill set.

Blake – Pick 1 – Lebron James

No brainer here. Lebron is the best player in the NBA in my books. This team also has the die cast for a sick display of dunking and alley-oops, which leads to…

Blake – Pick 2 – Chris Paul

There’s no point forward on this team. Paul will be the one throwing oops to Bron Bron and Griffin. The former undisputed top PG gets bragging rights in this draft, though I personally wouldn’t rank him first.

Kobe – Pick 2 – Kevin Durant

Kobe picks another wing scorer, one that’s young enough and humble enough to clash with him personality-wise on the court.

Blake – Pick 3 – Dwyane Wade

With Lebron in his ear, Blake chooses Wade to round out his starting back court. A Wade, Lebron, Griffin trio is a Big Three worth much more hype than the Big 2.5 of Wade, Bosh, Lebron.

Kobe – Pick 3 – Derrick Rose

Kobe goes with Rose to run the point. I think of this writing, Rose is the best PG in the league (a two legged Paul would be better, but since he only has one, it’s Rose). Rose provides the whole package at the 1. Drive and kick ability, a great mid range game, 3-pt range, pretty good defense, etc.

Blake –  Pick 4 – Pau Gasol

The Griffin’s need a center and Gasol fits that role beautifully. It’ll set up an interesting Kobe vs. Pau dynamic.

Kobe – Pick 4 – Dirk Nowitzki

Kobe goes with the stretch four option here. It’ll bring a nice dynamic to the team. Nowitzki can play in the post with Dwight or out near the 3pt line to open up driving lanes for Rose. Plus there’s no stopping he’s awkward fallaway. Dirk is secretly one of my top-5 favorite players in the league.

Blake – Pick 5 – Carmelo Anthony

Blake grabs a volume scorer to be the first man off the bench. He can come in at SF and allow LBJ to slide to PF or SG to create some matchup nightmares.

Kobe – Pick 5 – Al Horford

Blake gave Dirk and the Mavs some issues in their second meeting of the season, so they go with Horford who offers more defense than Amare and more athleticism than Duncan. This pick is a bit of a reach in terms of pure talent, but it’s a value pick.

Blake – Pick 6 – Deron Williams

Unfortunately there’s no Paul vs Williams battle. Williams provides size to perhaps bother Rose if he blows by Paul with consistency.

Kobe – Pick 6 – Rajon Rondo

He’s kind of made for All-Star games in the sense of his pass first mentality. When Team Kobe gets a bunch of scorers on the court, they’ll be paired with Rondo who’ll run the offense beautifully.

Blake – Pick 7 – Chris Bosh

The Miami trio are reunited in this scenario. He provides some good jump shooting and is already used to not being the top dog.

Kobe – Pick 7 – Paul Pierce

As much as Kobe would like to play the whole game, he’ll need to be spelled at some point. Pierce can slide over to SG as well as provide some good defense on Lebron. Team Kobe officially changes its name to Team Awkward Fallaways.

Blake – Pick 8 – Ray Allen

The Griffins jump on Ray’s ability to shoot the trey and prevent Allen and Pierce from pairing up again.

Kobe – Pick 8 – Kevin Garnett

The run of Celtics is complete. KG gets picked for defensive ferocity. The pick by need here would be Manu, but Kobe knows that he can sit on him as Blake doesn’t have a need for Manu.

Blake – Pick 9 – Amare Stoudemire

Amare gives team Blake a bit more size down low.

Kobe – Pick 9 – Tim Duncan

Value pick here. Duncan won’t necessarily need to play heavy minutes. Plus, he can take it to the bank.

Blake – Pick 10 – Russell Westbrook

I think the team of athletic freaks needs one more athletic freak.

Kobe – Pick 10 – Manu Ginobili

Kobe cashes in on the Ginobili pick. Can’t afford to wait any longer on him. Plus, he can take it to the bank, too.

Blake – Pick 11 – Kevin Love

Glue guy. Rebounding. Love and Westbrook perhaps get to relive some UCLA magic.

Kobe – Pick 11- Joe Johnson

Size and shooting on the outside…and the only guy left on the board.

So the teams look like this:

Team Kobe Starters:

Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose

Team Blake Starters:

Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul

Team Kobe Bench:

Horford, Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, Duncan, Ginobili, Johnson

Team Blake Bench:

Anthony, Williams, Bosh, Allen, Stoudemire, Westbrook, Love

February 10, 2011

Trade-a-palooza: Eastern Conference

by Jeeves

The NBA’s trade deadline is fast approaching. In the next couple weeks, leading up to the 24th, teams positioned for the playoffs will look to strengthen their squads while other teams will try and stockpile assets and rid themselves of salary. I’ve gone ahead and brainstormed some possible trades so check them out below.

A few things to note:

I focused on trades between playoff contenders and non-contenders. It’s hard to come up with a trade where two teams change up their rotations while still trying to make the playoffs. This also means that if I made a trade between a contender and a fringe contender (eg Boston and Indiana) or two fringe contenders I made the assumption one team was gearing up for the stretch run while the other was willing to punt for salary relief/assets. I also only looked at two team trades; I didn’t want to get too fancy. So feel free to dismiss these trades or to propose better ones; I’m all ears. I’ve put *** by the trades I particularly liked.

Celtics

Anthony Parker or Jamario Moon for Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden

The Celtics do not have a lot of assets, so they’re a tough team to work a trade for. One thing that they do need is a back-up SF now that Daniels is out with his spinal cord bruise. The Cavs do this because at this point they are desperate for talent and Erden is fringey enough to take a look at. Plus the Celts and Cavs could do this trade with the understanding that the Cavs buy-out Daniels when he’s healthy and he can then just resign with the Celtics.

***Tracy McGrady and Ben Wallace for Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden

This trade gives the Celtics a little more roster flexibility. They can drop T-Mac in at PG or SF and Wallace gives them another big body to throw at Dwight. The Pistons do this to dump a little salary and pick up Erden. The question is, are the Celtics worried about T-Mac and his inability to advance past the 1st round? Yah, probably not.

James Posey for Jermaine O’Neal and Erden

I would love for this to happen just so we can get O’Neal back on the Pacers and Posey back on the Celtics. I will always associate those two players with those two teams. Again, Boston needs a small forward and it’s possible that management thinks Posey can find the effectiveness he’s lost since leaving Boston. Indy does this for the same reason as the Detroit trade above. Save some cash and get Erden. Plus there’s always the chance that O’Neal is done and his contract gets covered by insurance.

Grant Hill for Marquis Daniels and  Semih Erden

This would be the best trade for the Celtics. If it were to happen, it means that Phoenix could not find a more attractive offer elsewhere. Suns do this to try to get some value (Erden) out of Hill’s expiring contract, and as a way to give him a shot at a title.

Knicks

Nazr Mohammed and Eduardo Najera for Eddy Curry

I’m working this trade from the view point that the Knicks want to do as much damage as possible in this year’s playoffs. To do that, they need to get some size in the middle to help out Amare. Mohammed (and Najera for that matter) provide the size they need. This would preclude them from getting Melo in the off-season since only Mohammed’s contract expires, and therefore a reason why this trade probably wouldn’t happen, but it does make them better in the near term. Najera’s salary also comes off the books in time to go after Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, so that’s a plus. The Bobcats take on extra salary for the end of this season, but then see Curry’s larger salary come off of the books. MJ is trying to save money in Charlotte while also squeezing out a playoff appearance; this trade will achieve the former.

Jeff Foster and Dahntay Jones for Curry

The same reasoning as above can be carried down here, except instead of Najera at power forward you get Jones a shooting guard. He could actually play some back up minutes as nobody behind Fields (on the ESPN depth chart) has a pulse. This move doesn’t do much for Indy except save $2.5 mil next season. Since Indiana is going for the playoffs it probably wouldn’t happen, but remember I’m working under the premise that one team is going for it while the other team in the trade is calling it quits.

***Chris Kaman for Curry

This trade is perhaps the most interesting one that I’ve proposed so far. Kaman (when he gets healthy) provides a massive improvement for the Knicks. His large salary also clears in time for the 2012 free agent class of Paul and Howard. The Clippers on the other hand get a massive expiring which could allow them to enter the Melo sweepstakes if they feel so inclined. Worst comes to worst, Donald Sterling saves some money and we all know he loves doing that.

***Beno Udrih, Samuel Dalembert, Jermaine Taylor for Raymond Felton and Curry

This is kind of a jackpot for New York; let me explain. Beno represents an upgrade (to me) at PG. He shoots a much better percentage and though his assists are low, but I’m sure in D’Antoni’s offense those numbers will go up. Dalembert is an obvious upgrade over Mozgov at center. Dalembert is also a larger expiring contract than Eddy Curry which will give them that much more room for Melo. Beno’s salary plus Taylor’s salary both expire by 2012 and add up to more than Felton’s salary meaning if they whiff on Melo they can try again in 2012. The Kings end of this trade is a bit iffier. New York would have to throw in some sort of pick to make it worthwhile, which means the Kings would get their, I dunno, 2020 draft pick. I guess the fact of the matter is they save money, in terms of salary, this season and next season by doing this trade, which is a bit of a boon as the Maloof’s are in financial trouble.

76ers

Nazr Mohammed and Stephen Jackson for Jason Kapono and Andres Nocioni

While the Sixers have found some success playing a small lineup with Brand at center, they still need the size Mohammed offers when they play some of the larger teams in the league. They could also use an upgrade at SG as they have Jodie Meeks starting. The Bobcats don’t get much in terms of talent in this trade; Kapono has barely played and Noc is a nice effort guy who can swing between the forward positions. It does get them out of Captain Jack’s 3-year contract, which saves them some coin. The 76ers are already fairly tied up with Brand and Iguodala’s contract, so I don’t see picking up Jackson as ruining all that much flexibility. Plus, like I said, I’m looking near term rather than long term.

Bulls

Anthony Morrow for Brian Scalabrine, JJ, Bogans, (pick)

Plain and simple, the Bulls need a SG. It’s sad because Brewer and Korver aren’t terrible, but Thibs for some reason insists on starting Bogans who blows, plain and simple. Unfortunately, the Bulls don’t have much in the way of assets, at least one’s they’d be willing to give up. They need to hold onto Taj as Noah and Boozer haven’t been the picture’s of health in their careers so far. I think the Bulls value Asik more than others, so he doesn’t help. That leaves Bogans (who blows), James Johnson who has a rare blend of athleticism and size though is a project and two picks (their own and a lottery ticket from Charlotte). So in this instance, the Bulls offer their package which helps the Nets clear cap room if they change their minds about Melo. Morrow is the 2-guard with range that the Bulls need.

Courtney Lee and exception for Bogans, JJ, pick

Same story here. The Rockets do this to pick up the pick(s) as they continue to stockpile assets.

OJ Mayo for Scal, Bogans, JJ, (pick)

The Grizzlies just cut bait with Mayo and recoup a pick or two. It’s questionable whether the Bulls would take Mayo with his recent character issues. In the past, Bulls management has been unwilling to do so.

Pacers

Stephen Jackson for James Posey and Brandon Rush

So remember when I said, all these trades help one team in the playoff push and one team in salary relief/assets? Well this is another one of those. The Bobcats get out from that third year on Jackson’s contract and the Pacers get 2 SGs to play around with this year and have Jackson for when Dunleavy’s contract expires (end of this season).

***Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince for James Posey, Mike Dunleavy, and Paul George

This trade is exciting, I’m not going to lie. The Pacers now have a nice athletic rotation at SG/SF between Gordon, Prince, and Granger. If that’s too overwhelming, they can also flip Prince’s expiring to fill a greater need. Meanwhile, the Pistons get out from under Gordon’s contract. It would be one thing if he was their starter, but $11 million is too much money for 27 minutes a game. Dunleavy’s contract expires this year so the Pistons aren’t losing out by swapping Prince. As I said they kiss Gordon’s contract goodbye and they get Paul George who I like and think could be a good player.

Antohny Morrow, Travis Outlaw, Damion James, Ben Uzoh for TJ Ford and James Posey

There’s a lot in this trade. Morrow is an upgrade at SG for the Pacers. They perhaps can help Outlaw become productive again. James and Uzoh are just filler. Ford is a nice expiring for New Jersey and Posey’s two year deal is much more palatable than Outlaw’s 5-year deal.

***Leandro Barbosa for Ford

This is an expiring for expiring swap. Ford makes more which gets the Raptors that much more cap room; Barbosa is an upgrade for the Pacers.

Kirk Hinrich for Posey

The Wizards save some money over the next two years, while the Pacers get the better player. Both players contracts expire after next season.

Bucks

***Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw for Michael Redd

The Bucks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon after all those contracts they handed out, so they might as well go all in to realize their ceiling as a middling playoff team. With that in mind, they trade Michael Redd’s massive expiring contract ($18 million). They get an upgrade at PF in Diaw and have a SG/SF rotation of Maggette, Wallace, and Salmons.

Antawn Jamison, Boobie Gibson, Exception for Michael Redd, Corey Magette

The Bucks get a big upgrade at PF and a nice back up in Gibson. The Cavs save a boatload of money in the near term and get back a player with a pulse. Magette become their best player, instantly and though his contract is 3 years, they end up saving money over that span by trading both Jamison and Gibson.

Troy Murphy and Anthony Morrow for Michael Redd

To be honest, I’m not sure how in love New Jersey is with Morrow which is why I keep including him in these trades, plus, he’s interesting. The Bucks get an upgrade at SG and Murphy may be able to contribute at PF. Murphy’s $11 mil deal is done at the end of the year so they still get some money off the books. The Nets on the other hand get Michael Redd’s Expiring Contract.

Elton Brand and Thad Young for Redd and CDR

Like I said before, the Bucks seem pretty locked in with all the contracts they gave out. This just solidifies them being locked in for the next 3 years. Brand’s fat contract and revived play will hugely upgrade PF, while Thad Young will provide solid rotation play. The Sixers get some breathing room under the cap and CDR because he’s a nice player. The Sixers may be upset about losing Young, but it’s probably worth it to be rid of Brand. His contract feels like a ticking time bomb to me.

Samuel Dalembert and Beno Udrih for Redd

Two upgrades for the Bucks and Redd saves the Kings so much money that the Maloof’s instantly blow half of the savings on a bender in Vegas.

Heat

No assets therefore no trades.

Hawks

Mo Williams for Mike Bibby and Jeff Teague, Mo Evans

The Hawks get an upgrade at the point while the Cavs save some money and get something interesting in the form of Jeff Teague

Magic

They have fat contracts that are basically untradeable, unless someone has a change of heart and desperately want Hedo.

Bobcats

It’s tough to find a trade that makes them better, sorry MJ

The Western Conference will come out in a day or two.

February 4, 2011

Rebounding: How Much is Effort and How Much is Talent?

by npiller88

Kris is practicing his rebounds all over town

Jeeves’ last post about Amare Stoudamire’s overrated MVP bid got me thinking about his true value. But before I rip into him, let’s first look at the case FOR Stoudamire. In his career, it’s usually a good thing when he leads the team in scoring. That suggests that his production is important, and that he isn’t a drain on the team’s production as a whole. His team has won 63% percent of the games in which he was the leading scorer. Now, of course, much of that success can be attributed to Steve Nash with the Suns, who was the best player on that team, and whose game is built upon making the guys around him thrive. In other words, it could be more a reflection of Nash’s skills than Stoudamire’s that the team was successful when Stoudamire was the leading scorer. But we’ve seen with Stoudamire’s recent scoring success with the Knicks (in the absence of an elite point guard), that much of his value should be traced to him alone. We can assume that Stoudamire’s elite size and athleticism help him finish above the rim (where he gets many of his easy buckets), and his strong mid-range jumper is a nice tool as well. He is the best player on a decent team, and he changes the way opponents must scout and defend the Knicks.

So why isn’t he an MVP Candidate? (I mean besides the obvious, that his team is only 2 games above .500, certainly not territory for producing an MVP) Simple. Take a look at his rebounding rate: He is averaging 8.8 rebounds per game while playing nearly 38 minutes a contest, making for a paltry 11.3 per 48 minutes, good for 21st in the league, and behind guys like Ersan Ilyasova and rookie Derrick Favors. How can a 6’10” jumping jack of a player with sinewy muscle to spare fail to grab rebounds at a higher rate?

This got me thinking about what makes a good rebounder. There are plenty in the NBA who don’t exactly scream: “elite athlete.” Look at Kevin Love: Much has been made of his league leading rebounding stats (nearly 16 per game, nearing Dennis Rodman’s class), but what about his total rebound percentage? Love grabs 23.3% (thanks Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference.com) of his team’s available rebounds while on the floor. Love is a “widebody” (around 260 pounds), which helps him get position. But there are plenty of guys with that sort of build who don’t rebound at a very high rate. Glen Davis of the Celtics weighs in at 290 pounds, but grabs only 8.4 rebounds per 48 minutes.

In order to rebound, you need to box out. This involves using your body as a barrier between the defender and the basket. In other words, getting “position.” The guys who do this best tend to be beefier (like Zach Randolph, who grabs 21.4% of his team’s available rebounds, or Dejuan Blair, who grabs nearly 16 rebounds per 48 minutes, good for 5th in the league–each of these guys is around 270 pounds). But what about guys who have tremendous size, but fail to rebound at a high rate? Many (like Andrea Bargnani, Rashard Lewis and Charlie Villanueva), are softer shooting specialists. But others, like Brook Lopez (who drew the ire of his coach Avery Johnson for not rebounding enough–less than 6 per game despite being 7 feet tall, and 265 pounds), seem to have a real problem with boxing out.

So, is rebounding a skill/talent, or is it all effort? I’d say somewhere in between. There’s no doubt that successful rebounders practice boxing out at least as much as Allen Iverson practiced in any way. This can be considered a developed skill, over a long period time. Certainly, athleticism and size often dictate talent, which contributes to rebounding ability. But there are plenty of guys without great athleticism or size who get the rebounding job done, and then some. Apparently, Nets forward Kris Humphries has found enough time to practice boxing out even amidst dating Kim Kardashian, because he checks in at 17.4 rebounds per 48 minutes, behind only Kevin Love in the NBA. Even in playing only 25 or so minutes per game, he still grabs nearly 10 rebounds a game. To top it off, Humphries is fairly undersized for his power forward position (6’9″ and 235 pounds). Like Love (who actually has the advantage of a bigger midsection and leg strength), Humphries is overachieving as a rebounder. My spidey sense tells me a lot of this is effort. Amare should take notes.

February 3, 2011

Overrated: Amare Stoudemire’s MVP Chances

by Jeeves

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look at something that’s underrated or overrated

Bottom line, Amare Stoudemire is not going to be the MVP.

Before I get into things, I want to say that I think Amare is a pretty darn good player. He has surpassed my expectations and proven false the idea that 50% (exaggeration alert) of his production was due to Steve Nash. With that out of the way, I think it is farcical that he is being touted as an MVP candidate. Let me lay it out in different words; the idea that Amare is the MVP of the National Basketball Association is ABSURD!

There are a number of ways to attack his MVP case, and well, I guess I’ll start with his production. The case for Amare as MVP, I suppose, begins with his scoring average; it is, after all, his flashiest stat. As of today, he is averaging 26.2 points per game, which is good for 2nd in the league behind Kevin Durant. I’ll admit, 2nd on the leaderboard is fairly high, but is it necessarily indicative of MVP play?If you look at Amare’s number throughout his career, this is by no means his best statistical season. I will point you to 2004-2005 when Amare averaged 26.0 ppg on 16.7 shots per game with a 56% shooting percentage and 8.9 rebound per game; compare that to this year, where Amare is averaging 26.2 points per game on 19.5 shots per game with a 50% shooting percentage and 8.8 rebounds per game. Is this year really that much more impressive that 04-05? I would argue that it is significantly less impressive. Amare is taking nearly 2 extra shots a game (with an extra turnover per game thrown in) to average a whopping .2 ppg more. If everyone is so enamored with Amare as MVP this year why wasn’t there more momentum behind him then? He finished a distant 9th in the voting that year; he was a mere after thought. Yes, Steve Nash won the MVP that year, but it seems that Stoudemire didn’t even dent the national consciousness.

This begs the question, if Amare’s season to date is no better than a number of his previous seasons, what has changed to make 2 out of 6 SI writers choose him as their half season MVP’s and 5 of 6 put him amongst their top 5? It seems the only difference is that Steve and Farouq, taxi drivers in NYC, are talking up his game this year. In a handful of pieces defending Amare as an MVP candidate, I’ve read people list, “He’s revitalized basketball in the city of New York!” as a reason. The absurdity of that notion is off the charts. I agree that the whole of New York is talking about Amare, but tell me, pleeease, tell me, when the hell did name recognition in New York City become a legitimate MVP attribute? I think it’s cool and neat that the Knicks are semi-relevant again after being run into the ground by Isaiah and James Dolan, but have we really sunk to level that general word of mouth in NYC is a legitimate barometer of MVP relevancy? Is that what we’re at? I apologize for all the rhetorical questions, but I just can’t wrap my head around it. I don’t know why Amare doing what he’s done for a formerly moribund Knicks team is any different than if he did it for say, the Pistons or better yet what he did do for Phoenix.

Stats aside, the historical precedent is working strongly against Amare. If you want the voters to vote for you, you need your team to win at least 50 games. 50+ wins and an MVP go nearly hand in hand. Only 7 people have won an MVP with less than 50 wins for their team (excluding Karl Malone in the lock-out year). Those players are Moses Malone (twice), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Petit, Bill Russell, and Bob Cousy. That’s it. To put it another way, unless your last name is Malone, no one in 35 years has won an MVP without their team winning 50 games. As I type this, the Knicks are 25-23 which puts them on pace for a much improved 42 wins. Even if, in your heart of hearts, you think Amare deserves the MVP because the guy who drove you home from LaGuardia talked about him non-stop, the Knicks’ record and Amare’s inability to elevate them to a better winning percentage basically precludes him from consideration. I recommend focusing your attention instead upon the likes of  Dwight, Dirk, Derrick, or LeBron.